like a coin


for a long time i didn’t understand how i could both love and hate my alcoholic parent. when things were going well and he cared about me, i felt really good about him. but when a crisis came and he didn’t seem concerned about me at all, i hated him. i was confused. i switched my feelings back and forth so many times that it started to make me sick.
[…] i can’t let my feelings be controlled by the alcoholic’s behavior. when i started to understand his illness, it helped me to stop reacting to his moods. now i realize that it was really the drinking i hated and i love that alcoholic as a person a lot more than i thought. — from alateen, a day at a time

my mother isn’t an alcoholic. i think she could become one so easily, and i am actually surprised she’s not, but as of today, she rarely drinks. however, she does have an undiagnosed mental disorder. she does have depression. alcoholism and depression are diseases as much as cancer, and are perhaps even worse.

i remember being a teenager, and wanting to go shopping with my mom whenever she went. a lot of that was just dying to get off our property, to see someone other than family for a change, but there was another part of it. i was hoping she was in a friendly, talkative mood. i was hoping that maybe in the car ride, i could have an actual conversation with my mother, like other girls i knew had.

if i knew she was going somewhere in advance, i would spend so much time daydreaming about it. what we might talk about, things about myself i could reveal to her, and how she might seem like she cared about those things. i would get so worked up, so excited.
sometimes i would find that i wasn’t allowed to go. that wasn’t as crushing, however, as going and spending the whole car ride in silence. it wasn’t as painful of trying to pull conversation out of her the forty minute ride to tallahassee and back. these trips would often end with us fighting, because she would notice the tears i tried to hide, and i wasn’t able to explain to her in terms she could understand.

she was unable to see past her own moods, her own depression, to mine. and even as i write this, nearly two years since i have even seen my mother, i can’t hold back the tears.

i know my mom is a good person at heart. i know that the things she does and says are controlled by a chemical imbalance, or maybe even brain damage. i know that her bad childhood maybe phsycologically upset her, and that affects her behaviour.

i don’t hate my mother. i hate the fucking disease. i hate that she won’t get help for it, or even refuses to recognize there is a problem. i hate that my brothers and sister are still stuck living with her. i hate the pain she puts my dad in. i hate the pain she causes everyone. i hate that worry that one day she might decide to not be here anymore, a worry that has haunted me since i was eleven, and found a journal where she contemplated suicide.

i hate that she gave me the problems i have, whether by genetics or the way she treated me. but let me state again, i don’t hate my mother. when she behaves normally, i actually quite like her, even love her.

but i haven’t seen her act like the mother i know in many years. and i think i hate that most of all.

8 Responses to “like a coin”

  1. i also hate that my father won’t get help or even fails to see he has a problem. i love that you can see past the illness to the potential person underneath, but it makes it so hard as we long deeply for that person.

    • The problem with it though is that it is usually in vain. You can forgive, but never forget. Regardless of changes made, you will still have doubts lingering in your mind. Truth is, I think it would be easier for us to hate.

  2. I so feel for you dear…having to deal with alcoholism with your father and extreme it would seem to me..depression of your mother. I can picture your description of wanting a ‘normal’ family life.. and your sadness and disappointment of it not being so.
    I should mention to you dear that I suffered from depression through many years, I sought help from doctors and medication to try and help me. It couldn’t have been easy for my family, but we did maintain a pretty normal family life…I can’t remember shutting my children or family out because I knew the effect that it could be having on them and went out of my way to try and alleviate their concern. I have told them I was sorry on different occasions but I even wrote a blog on it called ‘I’ didn’t mean to do it …but it happened’. I think I wrote it in March or April …I’m not sure. By no means am I trying to downplay what you went through or felt…it was real and it was very hurtful to you. Having both parents with problems would be extremely stressful. My father was an alcoholic but ( thankfully I say) he was not in the home when I was growing up so I did not have to deal with that disease. I was the last of 10 so my other siblings did have to…..just some thoughts Diane..

    • Thanks Diane. I suppose I should clarify that my father is not an alcoholic, but in the quote it was used as an example. My father DOES have autism which presents its own challenges, but does not effect me in any way i would consider bad.

      thanks for sharing your own experience. One thing that limits my perspective is that I am not a mother yet, so have yet to know how it will affect my mental health. You have given me things to consider!

  3. Well I cant pretend I know how you feel. But, I hope you guys find peace and hopefully your families might some day be a happier one.

  4. I’m sorry to hear the pain in your writing. Grew up in a totally dysfunctional, among other things, family and inherited depression from my father. After 10+ years since their deaths, I’ve decided to keep just the good memories and stop tormenting myself with what might have been. I think it would be hard to do this if my parents were still alive. Sending you hugs!

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